Due process not followed in disbursing N359m for security in 2014 – Witness

A prosecution witness, Vincent Odafe, said at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday that due process was not followed in the release of N359m approved by the then President Goodluck Jonahan for organising a security sensitisation programme in different parts of the country in 2014.

Odafe appeared before the court as the fifth prosecution witness in the trial of an ex-minister, Tanimu Turaki, on money laundering charges involving about N854m.

Turaki, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, presided over the Ministry of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs from 2013 to 2015 and served as the Supervising Minister of Labour from 2014 to 2015 in the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on May 4, 2020, arraigned him alongside his former Special Assistant, Sampson Okpetu, and two firms –  Samtee Essentials Limited and Pasco Investment Limited, on 16 counts of money laundering.

The prosecution alleged that the defendants used the companies to launder funds totaling about N845m stolen from the two ministries where the minister held sway.

Turaki and his ex-aide pleaded not guilty to the 16 counts.

At the Wednesday’s proceedings, Odafe, a former Director, Finance and Account, Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, who was led in evidence by the EFCC’s lawyer, Faruk Abdullah, said there were flaws in the disbursement of the N359m.

The witness who is now a director at the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, said, “I am here to say what I know about the payment that was made on the N359m for sensitisation of Muslims in 2015.

“While I was DFA (Director of Finance and Account), the Permanent Secretary then, Late Taiye Haruna, invited me to his office and said he was expecting a special money from Finance Ministry and that I should effect the payment.

“He gave me the list of accounts to be paid but I said there should be minimum documentation to be done before payments are made.”

When Abdullah asked him what the minimum documentation was all about, the witness said there must be an Authority to Incur Expenditure “and there will be specification.”

He added, “There was an approval from the presidency of N359m but there was no subhead on what the money should be spent on.

“I told him that this special payment has a lot of flaws.”

Justice Inyang Ekwo adjourned till November 10 for cross-examination of the witness.

 THE PUNCH

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